More than anywhere else in the world, Asia is experiencing an infrastructure boom. Although it is driven by both internal and external factors, this boom has accelerated noticeably as a result of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to extends port, railway and other connections throughout and across Southeast Asia. But what is the cost of this aggressive infrastructure development? What do we know about the people and places that are negatively impacted by these large-scale projects? In Laos, the government has placed enormous emphasis on infrastructure expansion as a mechanism for driving economic growth and poverty alleviation. Yet this infrastructure rollout has come at severe social and environmental costs.
Dr Kearrin Sims joins Dr Natali Pearson on SSEAC Stories to discuss how these large-scale infrastructure projects have led to increased political oppression and the repeated displacement of local communities in Laos.
About Dr Kearrin Sims:
Kearrin Sims is a lecturer in development studies at James Cook University. He researches regional connectivity and South-South cooperation within Mainland Southeast Asia, with a focus on ethical development. His recent work examines the intersectional violence of large-scale infrastructures, political oppression, and development geopolitics. Kearrin is the author of numerous academic and media publications, and lead editor of a forthcoming Routledge Handbook of Global Development.
For more information or to browse additional resources, visit the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s website: www.sydney.edu.au/sseac.